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Nancy Epstein, MPH, MAHL

Rabbi Nancy Epstein

Community Health and Prevention
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BA, Human Development, Colby College; MPH, Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; MAHL, Hebrew Letters, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College


Professor Nancy E. Epstein has served as an Associate Professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health since 2000. She has worked in the field of public health for nearly 40 years. Originally trained as a community health educator, she has held leadership positions in health policy and legislation, advocacy, community organizing, non-profit management, and public health education. Her work has spanned a diverse range of topics, including health care for underserved communities, health insurance disparities, patients’ rights in managed care, long term care, hunger, nutrition, physical and intellectual disabilities, oral health, health promotion and sustainable agriculture. She is a trained mediator, facilitator, and has done extensive training in group dynamics.

Professor Epstein spent many years in Austin, Texas, where she was involved developing and passing state legislation. She was appointed jointly by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1985 to oversee the implementation of five innovative statewide indigent health care programs, two of which became models for large-scale legislation and were subsequently enacted on the national level by the U.S. Congress. She served as Executive Director of the Texas Senate Committee on Hunger and Nutrition and Executive Director of the Disability Policy Consortium. When she left Austin in 1998, she returned to Washington, D.C. where she served as Director of Health Policy and Programs for the Center for Policy Alternatives, a national non-profit organization that worked extensively with state-elected officials and legislators in 40 states across the country. Prior to her arrival in Philadelphia in 2000, she was serving as a full time consultant to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in its Community Voices: Health Care for the Uninsured initiative—the largest initiative in the foundation’s history. She has also directed an award winning hospital-based community health promotion program, been a public interest lobbyist for the disability community, worked as a grassroots community organizer and directed an international program in sustainable agriculture. Professor Epstein is fluent in many areas of public health policy and practice. In all of her work, she emphasizes the importance of synthesis and looking across issue areas to build bridges and identify opportunities for the most meaningful impact. She has dedicated her career to relationship-building at the grassroots and community level to successfully bring the best of research into practice.

Rabbi Epstein has been a three-time award winner of the School of Public Health’s Golden Apple Teaching Excellence Award. In 2017, she received Drexel University’s Barbara G. Hornum Award for Teaching Excellence and Pedagogical Innovation. She has also worked extensively on community-based evaluation projects, particularly for Mental Health First Aid, and spends time building partnerships between the health care system and faith communities.

Professor Epstein received her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980, a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (MAHL), rabbinic ordination and chaplaincy certificate from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2006, and Bachelor of Arts degree in human development from Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Research Interests

  • Community-engaged research
  • Mental health and behavioral health
  • Religion and Spirituality


"Three Jewish Lenses for Work and Health”, a chapter in Judaism and Health: A Handbook of Practical, Professional and Scholarly Resources, edited by Jeff Levin, Ph.D. and Michele Prince, MSW, MAJS, (2013)

People with Developmental Disabilities and Oral Health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: A Research Report to the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (October 2006)

Aching Teeth and Vanishing Dreams: The Dental Problems of Philadelphia’s At-Risk Children and Youth, Drexel University School of Public Health (March 2003)

Psychosocial Services and Resources Referral Guide, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001